• The Modern Vanitas

    Date posted: November 6, 2009 Author: jolanta
    When I paint I like to do so on printed materials; it is a way to unite my passion for topics such as anatomy and mechanics, and my hobby for collecting posters, maps, atlases, and geography with my work.

    Fernando Vicente

    When I paint I like to do so on printed materials; it is a way to unite my passion for topics such as anatomy and mechanics, and my hobby for collecting posters, maps, atlases, and geography with my work. To find this material I’ve been to the flea market of Madrid (called “Rastro”), and in shops and antique fairs. Even my first exhibition was a series of paintings on advertisements (like the ones on bus shelters) and posters that advertise concerts. Many of these posters are torn off the wall of the street; they spend some time in the study before I even think about using them as support for a painting. Once I bought a collection of posters from a mechanic and they accompanied me a few years before becoming tables in my Anatomies series. I try to use the posters to find the shape of the human figure, creating kinds of robotic cyborgs or forms. I am always interested in cyberpunk culture and the human body.

    The Vanitas series comprises my latest exhibition, and is material that I’m still working on: the human body without subterfuge, outside and inside, its fragility. It is the mirror to look in to realize how fragile we are, what we think, and that we all have the same viscera, arteries, and muscles.

    Inside the human body is a tremendous beauty. I am captured by it; it took years and a selection of medical books and anatomical atlases. This series attempts to reflect its beauty. For a long time the inside of the human body has been reserved for the exclusive use of medicine and science; it is time now to claim it for our contemplation. The Vanitas is a recurring theme in the history of painting (vanitas vanitatis, omnia vanitas: “vanity of vanities; all is vanity”), intended to convey the futility of worldly pleasures compared to the certainty of death, usually represented by a skull surrounded by wealth. It reminds us that the skeleton of our time here is finite and therefore it is useless to accumulate wealth.

    Vanitas: I try to represent this new vanity of fashion and glamour—so many main characters of the paintings are like mock covers of fashion magazines like Vanity Fair—“omnia vanitas.”

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